I’ve had my fair share of odd jobs. In fact, in some ways I don’t know that I’ve ever really had a normal job. Of course, for some reason when I think of normal jobs I think of being an accountant. I guess any job that involves cubicles and numbers is normal. I realize my thinking is a little warped. But accountants just seem so incessantly normal.
My first job, other than being the official “channel changer” for my family, was working in a strawberry field. That’s right, I was a field worker. The pay was awful and it involved crawling across a strawberry field searching for ripe strawberries. Needless to say, I didn’t last long. Manual labor and I never have mixed well.
It wasn’t long after that when I became an illegal worker at a fast food restaurant. I was 15 when the manager, who I’m sure has been on “To Catch a Predator” twice, hired me. He lied to the company about my age and allowed me to work in the back for about 8 months. Neither my parents nor I knew that you had to be at least 16 to legally work at a restaurant in the state of Iowa. So about a week before my 16th birthday the assistant manager called me and told me not to come back to work until I turned 16, which is when I was told what had gone down. On an interesting side note, my predator was sent to jail on an unrelated (to me anyway) offense involving alcohol, minors, and sex. In retrospect I’m a little offended that I was not offered either alcohol or sex. (oh please…don’t act so shocked…)
Since customer service is my gig, it’s understandable that I quickly rose to the top. Once I was of legal working age they took me off of the bun-toaster and shoved to the front line, where I was able to present my awkward smile to every mentally-ill veteran who happened to walk through the front door. There were several that would occasionally get confused and wander through the service door and it was their loss. The restaurant was located close to a VA hospital that I seem to remember had a special outpatient mental health ward. Nice. That didn’t stop my Hardee’s “Served with Pride” award-winning attitude. Oh yes, did I mention that the name of the “restaurant” was Hardee’s? Umm. Yeah. I don’t mean to brag, but I was employee of the month twice during my stint as a front-line worker. I know what you are thinking. And it’s true. I have “front-line worker” written all over me. Thank you.
I had some really interesting friends from Hardee’s. There was Gail, her daughter Tracy, and son-in-law Bill. Gail made cakes on the side and once brought a cake to work in the shape of a penis at full attention with all the graphic detail you can imagine. I don’t remember much about Tracy, except that she was married to Bill. Interestingly, Bill was the truly odd one of the family. He was responsible for cleaning the parking lot and performing other random duties, like chasing the confused patrons out of the service entrance. He liked to invite people to come see his house. I don’t think he had anything funny in mind. He just simply enjoyed showing people his and Tracy’s fully undecorated home. I only took the tour once.
In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I was invited over to so many of my co-workers’ places. No one ever tried to give me drugs or alcohol. No one ever tried to touch me. Nothing. It must have just been my sparkling personality and award-winning smile that people could not resist. Even several of the managers had me over to their places. I know that you are probably thinking how lucky I was–those situations were dangerous. And, you could be right. But, these people actually were my friends, even if they were adults. In some ways, they were educating me on the real world. Perhaps they were just trying to show me what life would be like if I stayed at Hardee’s, instead of going to college. I chose college.
I do love a good list, so here’s a serious list of 5 things I actually learned from working at Hardee’s:
1) Smile at everybody. Even those who seem a little crazy.
2) Show up on time. If you are late, someone else has to wait.
3) Smoking is a nasty habit. Being exposed to secondhand smoke and seeing the effects of a lifetime-long smoking habit on a mentally-ill person is a great deterrent.
4) If you masturbate you will grow hair on the palms of your hands. I fell for this joke countless times.
5) Go to college. If you stay and work at a fast food restaurant in rural Iowa, you will end up living in a van down by the river. (In further hindsight, I would say that if you don’t choose to go to college then you should at least travel and expand your worldview.)
I remember when you worked there. Didn’t a few of our other friends work there also?
I must say that in general anything I did in that town back then was a dangerous situation.
I think the ratio of “sure I’ll buy you alcohol even though you are minors and it illegal” adults to teenagers was way too high.
I wonder if Gail, Tracy, and Bill still work there or if they moved down the street to McDonalds or KFC?
TO make sure you understand that being an accountant does not make a normal job.. I USED to be an accountant. Someday I have to blog about that.. but this is about you.. not me. I think your winning smile and sparkling personality has gotten you far in life. smooch
OMG! I AM LEAVING YOU A COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG!!! I CANT BELIEVE I FIGURED THIS OUT LOL :0)
I LOVE READING IT! NOW MY EMPTY DAYS HAVE A PURPOSE!!!
ANYHOW.. I’M VERY GLAD TO HAVE BEEN INVITED TO VIEW YOUR BLOG. I KNOW YOU HAVE A WAY WITH CUSTOMERS. WELL, I WOULD HAVE KNOWN HAD WE WENT TO WORK ;0)
CANT WAIT TO READ MORE!!!
THE FABULOUS MISS CARMICHAEL.
Well I have you beat – I have the mother of all odd jobs. I shove mincing queens into “monkey leotards” and then I attach fake wings. All so that they can flap around OZ. Until… the green lady “melts” into the stage trap door. Life is too weird.
all my love
My first job was at KFC; boss was a bitch so I quit after two days.
I then worked at Hardee’s. It was my first job and it was exciting. I loved my boss, Mike Gomez. Travis (who worked back line) taught me the joys of ranch dressing with curly fries. Also interesting is that my mom worked there before I did, but she got let go because she made the biscuits too big. God bless her generous heart.
I then worked at Ozark as a janitor, Montgomery Ward in Joplin and Omaha, and then I became an interpreter.
I didn’t work. Just didn’t feel like it and daddy had money. whatev.
pop over to my blog cuz we’re debatin tornadoe and earthquakes. seein’ as how your from cali, you might want to give me your two cents. Or twenty bucks, whichever you prefer.